Infrastructure

Deeside to Burton Cycle Route

I admit blog posts lately have largely been quite depressing however today we have some much better news.

Yesterday was the first day of really good weather we have had and so I left the Gazelle in the garage, and took out the road bike instead I headed off  in full lycra gimp suit to make the journey down to the border with Wales to see one of the country’s best new cycling facilities.

The Wirral has long been a bit of a hub for sports cycling, Phil Liggett was born at Bebington, Chris Boardman at Hoylake and Paul Sherwen just down the road at Widnes. On the road down to Chester is the Eureka Cycling Cafe, popular with the roadies on the way for a ride out in to North Wales. A typical ride into North Wales involves leaving the A540 at the Two Mills junction and Taking the Welsh Road a very heavily trafficed route with a mix of cars and HGVs. This meets the A548 and the A494 at a very large junction, this junction was reprofiled a few years ago to include some cycle facilities but it’s still not a nice place to be.

Recently though a new route has opened up that misses out an awful lot of this road and provides safe, convenient traffic free access to North Wales for cyclists and pedestrians. It is part of NCN 568 and the main part of it runs from Deeside Industrial Estate to the Harp Inn at Neston effectively cutting across marshland at the bottom of the River Dee. before passing through some residential roads in neston and linking up with the Wirral Way

DeesideBurtonRouteFrom the Deeside end the entrance to the route is via the Industrial Estate, take the road down to the firing range and just before the entrance is a fork off to the right then there are a couple of barriers through which you make a zig zag, I think they are spaced far enough apart to get a tricycle through.

Lots of people were out enjoying the new route.

This first section is notable for a good reason, the tarmac, as smooth and glassy as you could wish for, the sort of tarmac that makes a road cyclist in the UK weep with joy.

Deeside Burton Cycle Route

This part of the route takes you up on top of an embankment that runs alongside the railway tracks, it reminded me very much of a dyke I cycled along on the approach into Nijmegen, though not half as windy. From this embankment you can view the boardwalk that makes this whole journey possible.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteThe Boardwalk is only a couple of hundred meters long but it links two paths separated by a marsh. It is of wooden construction and about 3 metres wide There’s plenty of space for cyclists and pedestrians to use it safely provided nobody expects to be doing 25mph across it.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteThe surface is quite good being of solid wooden boards inlaid with sandpaper type strips for added grip

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteOf course tarmac would have been better but that would no doubt require a steel or concrete construction that would massively increase the costs. I suppose wood is good for now while it is seen how popular it is, and it is also more gentle on the eye in these very natural surroundings.

Following the Boardwalk we meet another tarmac path there are a couple of gates to negotiate at this end, they must be close to a meter wide so a tricycle or handcycle should be able to pass through, but if a person can’t dismount they would require someone else to open it for them. This particular gate below hasn’t had the tarmaced surface built square upto and away from the gate, in fact the unsurfaced part falls away into the field below. This would be the only significant fault of the route and it is easily fixed.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteA lot of sheep are free to roam in this area and they have crapped all over the path, not a problem on a nice sunny day unless you are really precious about your road bike, however in the rain it could be a bit horrible and even dangerous, however I expect the farmer has every right to have his animals there so removing them is not a solution.

There are some wonderful views to be seen, right across the river to Wales and also as you stand in the marshland I’m sure many birds and animals are visible for those with the patience to wait.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteThere were a great many cyclists out enjoying the sun and they were a wonderful variety too, there were the road guys returning from a day in North Wales, but there were also more elderly people getting a bit of low-impact exercise and families of all ages, children on child seats, tag alongs, tandems, and little pink bikes with stabilisers. Really fantastic to see, but even here I’d say at least 80% of people were wearing helmets, a sad indictment of the fear that has been instilled in the nation by those who want to reduce cycle usage by making it seem unsafe.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteThe next point we come to is Burton and this time a box type gate, again big enough to get a tricycle through provided you have help to actually open the gates.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteThe path now continues along the front towards Neston and I saw one of my favourite sites of the day, the enterprising people at Denhall Fisheries have stuck a sign outside saying ‘Net’s Coffee Shop, Opening Soon’ absolute proof that cycling increases commercial activity and a good businessman will never miss an opportunity, I predict they will do very well. (Note to the owners, make sure you serve good quality espresso to attract the roadies)

Net’s Coffee Shop

 

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteA little further up the road for reasons I am unsure of the surface has been gravelled rather than tarmaced, at the moment it is very loose but it is also very fine, so not dangerous and I’m sure most of it will wash away, though I’m not so sure what the surface is underneath. It’s perfectly adequate to cycle on but it’s rather noisy.

20130526_134139At the end of the new route we arrive at the Harp Inn, a lovely little pub situated down by the river and from which you can spend many pleasant summer evenings watching the sunset. On this very warm afternoon the outside seating was full of cyclists, let’s hope the pub decides to start stocking some French lager. The pub has benefitted from the new route in another way, the last time I was down here the road/carpark in front of the pub was just a broken, rutted, untarmaced surface that made you cringe to drive over in your car, now they have some super smooth tarmac, good news for everyone.

Deeside Burton Cycle RouteAll in all a really good effort by Sustrans, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Flintshire County Council who have come together to provide a beautiful, safe route between the Wirral and Wales, for which they must be applauded. The route is about the same length from Neston to Deeside as it would be on the main road, although it will no doubt be slower, not least because you aren’t belting along as fast as humanly possible to keep up with the HGVs doing 50mph. I can’t say if there will be much commuter traffic on it as I have only seen it on this Sunday afternoon but for anyone who has to get between mid/north Wirral and Deeside it is undoubtedly the route of choice now.

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11 thoughts on “Deeside to Burton Cycle Route

  1. Re the gravelled section, that’s quite new. Underneath it is perfect tarmac that was laid at the same time as the other new tarmac sections. The gravel was added in an apparent desire to make it look ‘rustic’ (that’s a direct quote from local councillor) and was approved by Sustrans. I think the gravel is more of a contrast to its surroundings than the tarmac underneath!
    A great shame imo, indicative of the casual lack of respect cyclists are used to with cycle infrastructure, but it’s still a great facility.

    • Interesting. I’ve just tweeted the RSPB, ironic!, to say the noise of the gravel as you ride across it must be much more offputting than the sight of tarmac. It’s very loud. Hopefully they will get rid of it, it’s not hazardous, just noisy and pointless.

  2. Gravel is here to stay I’m afraid. It’s taken 21 years to reinstate this facility since the MOD took it in 1992, part of the reason was the RSPB’s reluctance to co-operate.

    At least it’s been reinstated as a dual cycling/pedestrian route and no cars allowed.

    • RE: no cars allowed; since the café has opened on the Burton – Harp route, you will run the gauntlet of the first 250 yards , we dodged seven cars on the way to the Harp and six on the way back. Despite the very large ‘pedestrian and cyclist only’ sign at the entrance of the road, people are driving to the café, Those with children and dogs beware !

      • I ride this route regularly, perhaps 3 to 4 times a week as it’s a good way of getting into North Wales for me. I tend to avoid the path past Net’s as it’s busy with dog walkers. But, you saw how many cars? I was in Net’s yesterday after my ride up to the Horseshoe and didn’t see any cars on that stretch. In fact, the only time I’ve encountered a vehicle on it since I’ve been regularly using it (February) was when a delivery vehicle was leaving the farm that Net’s is now sited at.

        I think you were *exceptionally* unlucky.

  3. I was on the Wirral Way two weeks ago if I’d known this was here I would have carried on. But it’s an excuse to get out another weekend now though. I’d prefer Belgian beers in the pub however!

  4. We rode this section today, it was sooo windy but that was the only complaint. It’s a lovely route. We were on the Wirral Way two weeks ago and came back with two flat tyres and a shedful of thorns so will be giving that a miss for a bit. Of particular interest was the patrolling soldier half way toting a semi-automatic with a magazine in it that was bigger than him !

  5. All cyclists need to remember that this is a multi use path and that we must be prepared to give way to families, dog walkers, twitchers and any one else who chooses to use the path. For once the cyclist is the “danger” instead of the Bus or lorry. Please be polite civilised and set an example. As a local cyclist, i am already seeing non recognised paths and routes around Neston being closed to bikes! 😦

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